‘Like a leper and a prisoner,’ Singapore virus survivor says of quarantine

Recovered and fresh out of the hospital, a COVID-19 survivor yesterday recounted feeling like “a leper and a prisoner” while being quarantined seven days at the National Center for Infectious Diseases. 

In a post published to a Christian community website, the 34-year-old Singaporean man and Singapore’s 48th patient said that his every movement was tracked and he had very little contact with people. 

“To prevent contamination, and due to the contagious nature of the virus, there are two glass doors to the room, and a food hatch in the wall for the medical staff to deliver food trays and medication to the patients. All nurses and doctors put on protective gear before approaching any patient,” the unidentified man wrote

Salt and Light, a website devoted to Singapore’s Christian denominations, published the account yesterday.

“The nurses attached a tracker on me to monitor my movements and patched me up wirelessly for minimal contact. They communicated via a desk phone next to my bed,” he added. 

He said that he tested positive Feb. 11 and was the first of at least 20 cases since linked to the Grace Assembly of God megachurch. 

The man works for the church and had visited Malaysia in late January, the church’s outlets on Tanglin Road and in Bukit Batok, as well as various shopping malls prior to being hospitalized, according to information about patient No. 48 disseminated by the Health Ministry. 

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After testing negative twice, he said he was deemed to have recovered and took a taxi home yesterday upon being discharged. He lives on Bukit Batok Street 25, the ministry said.

The coronavirus outbreak in Singapore has disproportionately afflicted the country’s churchgoers, with a second church called Life Church and Missions linked to five coronavirus infections. The spread of the disease prompted Singapore’s Catholic Archdiocese on Friday to suspend masses indefinitely. 

The newly recovered patient said the infection put his faith to the test. 

He blamed inaccurate information published in the media once his case went public for receiving a “backlash and harsh comments” but said he was supported by his church peers. 

He also sounded anxious over the inconsistency of his test results. According to the former patient, his first test in isolation was a nasal swab that came back negative, followed by a second that came back positive, and a third deemed inconclusive.

“Were those my results?? Did they make a mistake?? How can that be?? Can they administer the test swab on me again??” he wrote, recounting his reaction to the positive result. 

“Physically, I felt in the pink. Doctors said I was asymptomatic. But mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it was a challenging time,” he added.

While in isolation, the man said he was able to interact with his church peers and family members through his mobile phone. He also interacted with some of the medical workers who had very little time with family as they had to work “round the clock.”

“These healthcare workers work round the clock, their leave has been frozen and some of them are separated from their families. Let them not be forgotten, under-appreciated or treated like the plague,” he wrote. 

After his fourth and fifth test results came out negative and a doctor visited his bed without protective gear, it became clear that he had survived the virus, he said. 

“The next two swab tests were negative for COVID-19 and that became clear when the doctor walked through the doors without any protective gear to congratulate me and inform that I was free from COVID-19!

“I was overjoyed that I would be discharged without any quarantine. My body had fought the virus and I am a COVID-19 survivor! I got myself into a taxi and headed home to reunite with my family,” he said.

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This article, ‘Like a leper and a prisoner,’ Singapore virus survivor says of quarantine, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!